Christmas traditions from around the world. Some are weird. Some are wacky. Some are wonderful. And some are all three!

 Perhaps more than any other holiday, Christmas is a time of traditions. Many Christmas traditions are hundreds, even thousands of years old, handed down from generation to generation.

The Christmas traditions that we practice here in America are quite familiar to us. But if we were to venture out beyond our shores during the Christmas season, we'd come upon some traditions that, to us, might seem rather strange.

But though these traditions might seem weird or wacky to us, they're certainly not strange to the people that have been practicing them for generations untold. And in their own way, each of these weird and wacky traditions is also wonderful.

Well, except maybe for this first one…

[caption id="attachment_63126" align="aligncenter" width="800"]Nikolaus and Krampus 1896 Krampus and Saint Nicholas visit a Viennese home in 1896[/caption]
        1. Krampus The Enforcer. In some parts of the world, Santa has sort of an evil alter ego. You might think of him as a Mr. Hyde counterpart to Santa's Dr Jekyl. His name is Krampus. And while Santa gets kids to toe the line by rewarding good behavior, Krampus takes a different tact toward keeping kids in line. He punishes bad behavior. His appearance alone is probably enough to scare the bejeebers out of kids (adults, too!). He's tall and hairy. Walks about on cloven hoofs. Has a long, whip-like tail. Sports a pair of long, curved, dagger-sharp horns. He's not a guy you'd want to mess with. And if you're a kid that's been bad, legend has it that Krampus will hunt you down, toss you in a sack and tote you back to his lair, never to be heard from again. Though if you're lucky, Krampus might let you off with nothing more than a sound thrashing with tree branches. OK, interesting tradition. We'll definitely classify this one in the weird category. And we'll stick with the Santa tradition, thank you very much. (But we'll also keep our fingers crossed that Krampus doesn't happen to read this blog post!)
        2. No Cleaning on Christmas. In Norway, there's a long-standing tradition to not do any cleaning on Christmas Eve. That's because all the brooms of a household are hidden away. And why are the brooms hidden away? So that the witches that traditionally come out of hiding on Christmas Eve won't steal the brooms and, well, do what witches do with brooms. Yeah, we're going to have to classify this one in the weird category. It's not all bad, though. Any excuse to take a break from house cleaning…KFC Christmas Tradition
        3. KFC! KFC! KFC! As traditions go, this one's a baby, only about 40 years old. But in that short time this tradition has grown deep roots. And to add to the weird factor, this tradition got started from an advertising campaign - possibly the most successful ad campaign in history! Back in the 1970's, Kentucky Fried Chicken (now known as just KFC) was opening some franchises in Japan. They decided that they needed to do some advertising. Someone had noticed that Americans visiting Japan on Christmas often ended up eating at a KFC; it was the closest they could find to the American tradition of a Christmas turkey dinner. So KFC decided to have an advertising campaign designed to encourage a tradition of eating at KFC for Christmas. And boy, did that idea strike a chord with the Japanese people! That tradition took root and grew like wildfire. Today, the Japanese flock by the millions to their local KFCs for Christmas. In many cases, they make reservations months ahead of time, and even wait for hours in lines that snake around blocks for their KFC Christmas dinner. By the way - to tweak the wackiness up a notch - a Santa-suit-wearing statue of Colonel Sanders often greets those millions of Japanese KFC Christmas customers! So we're going to place this one firmly in the wacky category. But this tradition's got a bit of wonderful to it, too - finger-licking-good wonderful. (Sorry, couldn't resist!)Rollermass Venezuela
        4. Rollermass. In Caracas, Venezuela, it's traditional for people to go to mass early in the morning each day from December 16 through December 24. Nothing strange about that, you say? Indeed not. But what is rather strange is the mode of transportation that Caracas citizens traditionally utilize to get to the masses: They roller-skate. Early each morning during the season residents strap on their skates and zip to mass down the city sidewalks and streets (many of which are temporarily closed to cars). Along the way, if they happen to notice a string dangling out of a window, they'll give it a playful tug. Because it's also a tradition for children to tie a string to a big toe and drape it out the window when they go to bed.We're going to rate this one as a split between wacky and wonderful. And we have to wonder: Is this the only time of the year that many of the participants strap on roller skates? If so, there must be quite a rash of scraped knees and bruised backsides that accompany this tradition!Crazy Christmas Light House
        5. Griswoldians. Who hasn’t laughed themselves silly watching Clark Griswold's Christmas decorating antics in the movie Holiday Vacation? Not many, because that movie itself has become sort of a holiday tradition. And that's why we're naming this next tradition in honor of Clark. It's the tradition of over-the-top home Christmas displays. It seems to be a growing tradition. There's even a TV show called "The Great Christmas Light Fight" that has families competing for recognition as having the most dramatic, awe-inspiring, over-the-top Christmas display. And every Christmas season you can read news stories about extreme Christmas Enthusiasts that have gone over-the-top with their displays. Last year's Champion Griswoldian would probably be the Richards family in Canberra, Australia. Their home was decorated with more than half a million bulbs - 31 miles of light lines! So how do we rate this tradition? Strictly wonderful. After all, we sell the bulbs that make those Griswoldian displays possible!

OK, Your Turn…

The Christmas traditions listed above are all large-scale traditions. Though some of them may be restricted to a relatively small region, millions of people participate in each of them.

But it's not at all unusual for individual families to have Christmas traditions that are unique; traditions that somehow started within a family, and stayed within a family.

How about your family? Do you have any weird, wacky or wonderful Christmas traditions? Will you share?

Who knows, if you share your tradition it might take hold, grow roots, and one day be honored with a mention in a blog post about weird, wacky and wonderful Christmas traditions!